Because C.Crane Company does not make SanDisk Sansa e250 I would like to thank them for sending me this to review. Without their support this review would not be possible. If you like this review and are interested in purchasing this MP3 player, then please visit their web site for purchasing options.
Ever since the iPod was introduced to the public the desire for everyone to have an MP3 player has become overwhelming. With sales of MP3 players in the millions, it’s no wonder that every company you can think of wants in on the game. SanDisk recently introduced their own line of MP3 players. The Sansa line of MP3 players has everything from really small 256MB players all the way up to 8GB video playing MP3 players.
- 1.8″ TFT color screen
- Digital FM tuner and FM recording
- Integrated voice recorder with built in microphone
- replaceable battery with 20 hour of life
- Strong Liquidmetal rear casing
Movie playing is not normally a feature you see on an MP3 player this size, but the e250 does have it. The e250 uses the Quicktime movie format. This is an interesting choice for SanDisk to make because Quicktime moves are huge compared to MP4 movie files or even WMV files.
An FM turner is also a nice addition. It goes back to the original Walkmans which often had a tape player and a FM tuner. This gives you another option when you are tired of listening to your collection of MP3’s.
A voice recorder is something new to MP3 players. I suppose it would be useful if you need to make a note to yourself about something and you don’t have paper.
A replaceable battery is something that the most popular MP3 player does not offer. I believe that they do this so they can make more money. When the battery dies you have to buy a new MP# player. Most likely the battery will die before the hardware dies. This leaves you with a perfectly good MP3 player, but no battery to power it. A replaceable battery like the Sansa e250 has, means the MP3 player will last a lot longer than other MP3 players. This saves you money and shows that the company puts the customer ahead of the bottom line.
The Sansa e250 is the 2GB version of the e200 line of MP3 players. This player is small enough to fit in your pocket, but big enough to have a 1.8″ TFT screen. The screen is not the biggest out there, but it is big and clear enough to watch movies and view pictures. With dimensions of 1.73″ (w) x 3.50″(l) x 0.51″(h) and a weight of 2.64oz. with the battery. You will hardly notice that it is in your pocket.
The front of the e250 is where all the action is. The majority of the front is taken up with the screen. The screen is a 1.8″ TFT screen. The screen is full color and has a very high resolution which is great for looking at pictures and movies. Below the screen are all the controls. The wheel in the middle moves through the menus, the button in the middle of the wheel selects an option, and the four buttons around the outside of the wheel have dual purposes. Unfortunately, the scrollwheel is not clickable. The buttons will perform the functions that are printed on them, such as play, pause, forward, backward and song menu. The other purpose is almost the same as the wheel. Using only the four buttons you can navigate through all the menus. Below the four buttons is the power button. The power button also seconds as the main menu button. At any time during playing you can press the power button once and it will take you back to the main menu. If you hold it down it will start the shutdown sequence. The front of the Sansa is really susceptible to fingerprints and scratches. I highly recommend getting some kind of screen protector.
On top of the e250 is a hold switch, 3.5mm headphone jack and the microphone. The hold switch is for locking the controls and making it so the e250 does not turn on or off. If it is off and you try to turn it on, then you will get a message saying it is locked and it will turn back off.
On the right side is the mico SD card slot. This slot can be used to increase the storage space of the e250 by 1 GB. As the micro SD card technology increases the additional storage space will also increase.
The left side of the e250 has only one button. It is the record button. This button is used to start the voice or FM recorder. The voice recorder uses the built in microphone located at the top of the e250. The FM recorder records whatever FM station you are currently listening to.
The bottom has the docking port. This port is how you connect it to your computer and how you charge it.
The back is bare, but it is removable so that you can replace the battery. The battery is a Li-ion rechargeable battery and provides about 20 hours of listening time. The Liquidmetal backing is really strong, scratch resistant, and does a good job of protecting the internals and the battery.
The menu is what you see every time you turn on the Sansa. There is a menu for each of the functions: Voice, Video, Music, FM Radio and Photo. There is also a settings menu. Each function menu has its own set of settings which can also be found in the settings menu.
The settings menu is where you will find all the options for controlling the Sansa. You can control things like FM presets, adjusting the Music Equalizer, and turning repeat and shuffle on and off. All of those settings can also be adjusted in the menu for each option. There is no difference between the settings just different locations to change them. The settings that can only be set in the settings menu are things like Backlight, Language, Date & Time, Brightness, Default volume, Auto shut-off, and USB mode. You can also reset all the settings and look up info on the Sansa’s software and hardware. The two USB modes that you can choose from are MSC and MTP. The MTP mode only supports Windows Media Player 10. You must use the MTP mode to synchronize music files using Windows Media Player. The MSC mode makes the Sansa show up as a drive on your computer and you can upload or download files as you please. I would highly recommend that SanDisk quickly develop software that adds support for other operating systems and music playing software.
MP3 player performance is a measure of how well it performs its tasks. The first task of an MP3 player is to play music. The second task is anything else that it can do like playing movies, FM radio, and looking at pictures.
As far as playing music the Sansa e250 does a really good job. I could not find anything I would complain about. There are several different ways to play music on the Sansa. You can choose to play a playlist, random songs, or by artist and album. One of the funny things I noticed about playing random songs is that it always started with song number 1. That means that even in random play you always hear the same song first. Although, if you skip ahead or finish song number one and you try to go back the Sansa will never take you back to the first song.
Movie playing is ok. I did notice some jerkiness when I watched some parts of movies. Despite the small screen size the picture was clear and you can distinguish all but the smallest details. The most strange thing about movie playing is the format that the movies are in. The Sansa will only play Quicktime movies. Even though it says it supports many formats it actually converts them to Quicktime when you use the software to upload them. The main problem with the Quicktime format is the size of the files. I ripped one of my movies to WMV format so that I could upload it to the Sansa. In WMV at 320×240 the file only took up 172MB. When I converted it to Quicktime with the included Sansa media converter it ended up as five 230MB MOV files. I would think that WMV or mp4 files would be a much better choice because they are just as good in quality, but the files are much smaller. It took 24 minutes to convert the movie to Quicktime. The software even rotated my wide screen movies so that they display wide on the Sansa screen. When playing the movie it played really nicely, but because it was split into more than one file, there was a 10 to 15 second delay between each file. If you need to pause you need to resume it quickly or else the Sansa will turn off and there is no way to resume the movie. If you stop the movie it is the same situation, there is no way to resume the movie. This can be a real pain because the only way to get back to the spot you were at is to hold down the forward button and this takes a really long time and your finger will get really tired.
FM radio is really great. The internal antenna is actually really powerful and it can pick up most stations. If you are having trouble with the reception then you can always plug in the USB connector. When not plugged into a computer it acts like an external antenna. You can even record FM radio by pressing the record button. It would be nice if there was a way to set a schedule on the FM recording. That way you would not have to be present to start or stop the recording.
Voice recording is the next item I tested. While it works great to record yourself when you are in a fairly quiet area it does not do so well in really noisy places. There is no gain control, so if you are in a noisy place then it is difficult to get it to focus only on the sounds that are close.
The last thing is picture viewing. Using the Sansa you can upload just about any photo type, but the converter will change it to a BMP file. Like movies it is an odd choice because of the file size. I would think that JPG would have been a better choice. Also, you really need to use the Media Converter to upload the photos because it actually creates two files, and if you don’t have both files in the right spot with the right name then the pictures will not display correctly. An odd thing I noticed was that the Media Converter did not rotate my pictures so that wide pictures would use the most screen space. I thought this was strange because it rotated my movies I thought it would also rotate my pictures.
Warranty and Support
The Sansa comes with a 1 year limited warranty. This is fairly standard with MP3 players, but is still very stingy. With almost no moving parts the warranty should be much longer.
With features like FM turner, Voice Recording, Video Playback, Replaceable Battery, and many others, this is really a great device. After using it for several weeks I really don’t have many complaints. My main issue is the lack of support for other video formats besides Quicktime. Another minor issue would be no gain control for the voice recorder. Those are not all that important for an MP3 player this size. Because of the size of the screen you will probably not play many movies and voice recording is a secondary feature. The main features perform really well. I was able to play any MP3, I was even able to play DRM enabled WMA files. I really enjoyed using the Sansa e250 and I felt that it was very easy to work with and use. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an MP3 player. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|